Serving Montana Agriculture and growing prosperity under the Big Sky

Marketing Assistance

The Agricultural Marketing & Business Development Bureau is responsible for market enhancement and development through direct market development activities, grants, seed capital loan investments in new and innovative products or process, marketing, and product development. Marketing and agri-business development personnel work closely with individuals and organizations to promote and enhance our agriculture industry.

We assist individuals, businesses, industries, and regional economic development organizations with ag-related business development planning, project coordination, legal and regulatory assistance, and other services. Programs and staff focus on business start-up and expansion, as well as business recruitment and relocation projects. Refer to the tabs below to learn more about our marketing and development programs and find resources to get you started on your own marketing efforts, and submit your business information to the MDA Ag Business Directory to receive updates from MDA business development staff on exciting marketing and sales opportunities for you to consider.

Trade Show Assistance Program

This program assists Montana agriculture companies in exploring domestic wholesale markets by encouraging exhibition at new trade shows outside of the state. It is not only for companies new to trade show exhibition but can also be useful for established companies who are looking to exhibit at a show that they have never been to before.

The assistance comes in the form of 50% reimbursement of qualified and approved expenses for trade show exhibition up to a maximum of $2,500.

For Guidelines Click Here
To Apply  Click Here

For additional assistance options, refer to:

Helping Montana Ag Entrepreneurs to increase their market presence outside the state of Montana.

Assistance for Exhibiting at Wholesale Trade Shows

Wholesale trade shows are one way that Montana ag entrepreneurs can increase their sales network. The Montana Department of Agriculture provides help for Montana ag entrepreneurs who want to expand their markets by exhibiting at wholesale trade shows.

The Journey of the First-time Exhibitor

Welcome to this training designed for the first time exhibitor.

It will take you on the exciting journey from selecting an event to successful participation and follow up.


Click on the Tracks below to begin the presentations for each. Scroll down to download the companion Guide for the training.

  1. Track 1: Planning - are trade shows right for you, picking the right trade show, and budgeting
  2. Track 2: Pre-Show - contracting a booth space, planning, and pre-show marketing
  3. Track 3: Show Planning - packing, shipping, and booth design and setup
  4. Track 4: The Show - travel, talking to buyers, at the show, and post-show

These presentations were created using Prezi, an online presentation interface requiring high-speed internet. If you do not have high-speed internet or cannot make the presentations work, you can complete the training using only the Guide


Follow along in the Guide as you progress through each Track of the training. In addition to the information from the presentation tracks, the Guide provides visuals and additional forms to help with your trade show success. All documents below are in PDF format.

  1. Download the complete manual (PDF, 7 MB, or download per Track, below)
  2. Download Guide Track 1: Planning (PDF, 1.13 MB)
  3. Download Guide Track 2: Pre-Show (PDF, 1.34 MB)
  4. Download Guide Track 3: Show Planning (PDF, 2.31 MB)
  5. Download Guide Track 4: The Show (PDF, 2.25 MB)
  6. Download Guide Resources (PDF, 199 KB)


Contact our Marketing Officer.

Whether you are a start-up or an established company looking for new markets, we can help. Our assistance is targeted to value-added agricultural companies, those who either grow the product and process it or those who use Montana agricultural ingredients in their processed products. We also assist those who grow specialty crops to sell as fresh products to Montana's consumers, food service, and groceries.

We have also contracted with Montana Food and Agriculture Development Centers (FADC), a network of small business assistance professionals across the state.

Knowing where to start when developing a new business is key to success. Below are some resources that can help:

For one-on-one assistance with starting up your business, contact the marketing officer listed on this page, or contact your local Food & Ag Development Center.

Where Most Small Growers and Manufacturers Start

Helping Montana agricultural producers and processors to market directly to consumers

For small growers and food manufacturers, the road to the consumer is varied. Many start selling direct to the consumer through farmers markets and internet stores, then move on to specialty food and gift stores. Once the product is established, the small food manufacturer begins to seek larger volume sales opportunities through grocery stores. This progression allows producers to gain experience, learn how to play the game, and build production and delivery capacities.

Below are a few resources to help you with marketing directly to the consumer.

Made in Montana and Grown in Montana Programs

The Made in Montana series of logos were developed by the Montana Department of Commerce to identify products from the state. The logos may only be used on products having been made, grown, created, or substantially transformed within the state of Montana.

Click here to sign up for this FREE program.

Farmers Markets

For Montana growers and processors, marketing directly to the consumer through Farmers Markets is a great option. Visit our Farmers Market page to learn more about exhibiting and visiting Montana's markets.

Montana Craft Shows

Montana hosts many retail shows including arts and craft fairs, farmers markets, and home and garden shows. These are great selling opportunities for businesses that aren't ready or don't want to enter the wholesale market but still want to reach buyers. Click here for a comprehensive, searchable list provided by Travel Montana.

Montana Food on Montana Shelves

Helping Montana agricultural producers and processors to market to retail establishments

Made in Montana & Grown in Montana Program

The Made in Montana series of logos were developed by the Montana Department of Commerce to identify products from the state. The logos may only be used on products having been made, grown, created, or substantially transformed within the state of Montana.

Click here to sign up for this FREE program.

Selling to Grocery Stores Manual

This manual was developed as a road map for small manufacturers to navigate the confusing grocery industry. You can download the whole manual, or choose particular parts, depending upon your connection speed.

Click here to download the manual, or download specific chapters using the links further below.


This document was created by Angelyn DeYoung, Marketing Officer for the Montana Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing & Business Development Division. The content was taken from published resources; interviews with food manufacturers, distributors, warehouses, and independent retailers; and guidance from other states and Canadian provinces.


While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, none of the sponsoring agencies or authors accepts responsibility for errors or omissions. The publisher, editors, and all contributors to this publication cannot be held responsible for publication errors or any consequences resulting from the use of this publication.

Made in Montana Events

The Montana Department of Agriculture, partnered with the Montana Department of Commerce, plans to host several Made in Montana events to help Montana producers connect with Montana and regional buyers. Click here for more information on these events.

Montana Food on Montana Plates

Helping Montana agricultural producers and processors market to Montana food service establishments

Once you have gained some marketing experience and built production and delivery capacities, you may wish to consider selling to wholesale accounts, such as restaurants, colleges, schools, hospitals, and other institutions. Creating a relationship with these institutions can help diversify your customer base and create a stable market for your products.

Begin by registering with the Montana Farm to Cafeteria Network and the Abundant Montana Directory.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) created the Montana Farm to Cafeteria Network with the goal of supporting local economies by encouraging institutions to provide nutrition, locally-sourced food in their cafeterias. Their website includes a Producer Database -- those food producers, processors, and distributors who are interested in supplying institutions -- and an Institution Database -- those Montana institutions utilizing local food systems.

Produced by AERO (Alternative Energy Resources Organization), the Abundant Montana Directory is an interactive database of producers, food processors, farmers markets, agritourism attractions, and other organizations committed to using locally-grown food and agricultural products. The database can be utilized by institutions and individual consumers to plan unique and authentic food and farm experiences. Add your name to the database by visiting the website and clicking on "Submit a Listing."

It Can Be Done!

View the Local Farms, Local Kids Video

Purchasing Local Food - Guidelines for Montana School Food Service Programs

Developed by Montana State University's Team Nutrition and the Office of Public Instruction, with help from the Montana Department of Agriculture, this manual explains how schools can source and use local products, including Montana beef.

Click here to download the Purchasing Local Food Guidelines for Montana School Food Service Programs.

For additional assistance with selling to the food service industry, contact the Marketing Officer, and also refer to the Western Sustainability Exchange Local Food Program.

Export Marketing Assistance

Consumers around the world recognize the United States as a reliable supplier of the highest quality food and agriculture products. As purchasing power increases and the demand for new food products grows, sales opportunities abound in global markets.

As the Montana Department of Agriculture’s International Marketing Office, we work hand-in-hand with Montana businesses to provide training on entering international markets, develop personalized export development plans, organize trade missions, and assist in the attendance of international trade shows.

Our assistance is directed toward Montana companies that produce value-added agricultural products, ingredients for the food service industry, bulk commodities other than wheat and barley, livestock genetics, and any agricultural-based product destined for retail sales.

As a member of the Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA), we provide valuable trade contacts and market research. In addition, we can help Montana companies secure federal financing for international promotional efforts through WUSATA’s Branded Program, and we also work in coordination with the Montana Department of Commerce.

Export Research Center

Once you have successfully established yourself in the Montana and the U.S. market, or if you offer a specialty product, you may want to consider expanding into the international arena. While the prospect of entering the export world may seem daunting, there are many resources and experts to help you along the way. Three important items you'll need are market research, buyer contacts, and logistical information on packaging, pricing, and financing. In addition to the Montana Department of Agriculture, explore the resources below.

GAIN Reports

USDA'S Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN) provides timely information on the agricultural economy, products and issues in foreign countries that are likely to have an impact on United States agricultural production and trade. U.S. Foreign Service officers working at posts overseas collect and submit information on the agricultural situation in more than 130 countries to USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), which maintains the GAIN reports.

Register at the website, managed by the International Trade Administration, to gain access to market research and trade leads. You can also listen to pre-recorded webinars and learn how to develop an export business plan.

Agricultural Trade Offices

To help U.S. agricultural exporters, the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) operates a network of Agricultural Trade Offices (ATOs) in the major markets of Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. These offices specialize in promoting U.S. agricultural products and helping U.S. exporters gain a foothold in new markets. The ATOs supply U.S. exporters with up-to-the-minute information on the market, potential customers, and promotional opportunities.

Montana International Trade & Relations Office

With Trade Offices in our Sister State of Kumamoto, Japan, Montana companies have the benefit of a knowledgeable trade representative who can assist with market research, buyer introductions, translation, and clarifying import regulations and tariffs in the Japanese market.

The Montana Department of Commerce website provides information about HS codes, tariff rates, insurance, shipping, international business etiquette and much more. Contact the Export Montana Staff for assistance with your specific product and export situation.  

International Marketing Assistance is available from the Montana Department of Commerce.

The WUSATA also provides funding assistance to companies for international marketing and promotional activities.

Some other things you'll need to know when exporting are the Harmonized System (HS) Code for classifying your commodity, the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code for classifying your business, and federal per diem rates for the countries to which you'll be traveling.  


Upcoming Export Events

The following events are being planned by the Montana Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association or United States Livestock Genetic Export, Inc. These activities are supported with funds from the USDA's Market Access Program (MAP):

  • No events currently listed.

For more export events, refer to the WUSATA website and the USDA Market Access Program.

The MDA offers grant and loan programs for specific commodity crops, including alfalfa seed, cherries, pulse crops (peas, lentils and chickpeas), potatoes, and wheat & barley.

Alfalfa Seed

The Alfalfa Seed Program is administered by the department under the Alfalfa Seed Industry Act. The Montana Alfalfa Seed Committeee provides direction for research and marketing toward the continued growth of the alfalfa seed industry of Montana.


Graded and inspected for markets worldwide. The Cherry Research & Market Development Program is funded by producers and directed by a Cherry Advisory Committee.

Pulse Crops (Peas, Lentils and Chickpeas)

Markets are expanding for pulse crops that fix nitrogen and provide rotational benefits with grain. The Pulse Crop Research & Market Development Program is funded by industry fees and led by the Pulse Crop Advisory Council.


Shipping point inspections are provided for more than 2 million hundredweight of seed potatoes shipped to Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Potatoes shipped to restaurants and grocery wholesalers are inspected by the Produce Program. The Potato Research & Market Development Program, funded by industry, is led by the Montana Potato Advisory Committee.

Wheat & Barley

The Montana Wheat & Barley Committee (MWBC) administers research and marketing activities for Montana small grain crops under the guidance of a Board of Directors comprised of producers from around the state.

Marketing News


Agricultural Development Division
Phone : 406.444.2402
E-mail :
Fax : 406.444.9442
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601
Marty Earnheart
Marketing Officer

Phone : (406) 444-2402
E-mail :
Fax : (406) 444-9442